A conversation with Northern Cheyenne Elder Raymond L Kingfisher, activist and journalist August White, and artist and photographer Pete Deevakul - 3 people and perspectives reaching out from the first chapter of Standing Rock to the next.
I met Augie in early February. It was just after sundown at “South Camp” - Prairie Knights Casino. I was feeling pretty good because Tess and I managed to find a ride back to the Casino that night from Oceti. After pulling stakes from ice and gathering garbage all day, the simple scenario of not having to hike 11 miles back in darkness felt like a victory in itself.
Augie had just returned to Oceti that evening - we reminisced about the ‘utopian era’ at camp just a few months prior. Visions of another America - a selfless, female-led communal work culture. Now the threat of militarized eviction loomed large, with all sorts of different intel on dates, times, and severity floating around. BIA had a command post at the edge of the casino lot; people were getting ‘snatched’; the Last Child raid was still raw on everyone’s minds.
We spent long nights talking about anything and everything, while Tess and I took turns bringing folks up to our room so they could shower. Between discussions on
how to reach people,
asking where mainstream media went,
the implications of colonization,
the discomfort required to make real change -
it came up that Augie had just spent the past few days driving Raymond Kingfisher back to Oceti from Seattle.
Seeing Raymond Kingfisher around Oceti and South Camp gave us continued motivation to keep doing our work, despite the dark cloud of military encroachment surrounding. On February 22nd - as I was glued to live feeds of the Eviction back in Brooklyn - Raymond quieted the torment in everyone’s minds, and led the closing prayer and ceremonial walk with a grace and dignity that assured me there was no defeat, that this fight was just beginning.
About beginnings - in a haze of surveillance paranoia, I wrote an odd email to Clara and Andrew - trying to describe the situation on the ground without mentioning “Standing Rock”, “DAPL”, or anything related. It wouldn’t have mattered if I did, though - they read everything, and I’m too low level to be of interest. Clara offered this chance to speak at Hunter through Educate & Act; who knew it’d turn into this? Not me. We just kept the fire alive; kept dreaming of it til it was real. “Wouldnt it be cool if…?” Well - let’s make it happen then.
To Eddie, Takya, Lakasha, Christine, Dan - Nimi’ipuu, Ojibwe, Little Creek Camp, 7th Generation, Veterans for Peace - we will find the schools, we will find the funding - we will bring you out. We want to learn. We want change.
— pd, 03/22/2017
Raymond L. Kingfisher is an Elder of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, and was a continual guiding presence at the camps of Standing Rock. He peacefully led the closing prayer at the February 22nd eviction of Oceti Sakowin, in the face of an overpowered US military force. It is a privilege and honor to have him in New York with us, to hear and learn from his perspective.
August White is an activist and journalist, who recently met former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley at the Native Nations Rise March in Washington DC. In February 2017, he travelled to the Bakken extraction zone to interview Native American resident Kandi Mossett on the greater - and everyday - impacts of these energy sources. Upcoming in April, he will be a keynote speaker at the Earth Day conference in Berkeley. He's done work for Indigenous Rising Media, TYT, Fusion, and GRIST, among many other independent news outlets.
Pete Deevakul received a BA in Studio Art from UCLA, and MFA from Yale University. On his first trip to Oceti Sakowin, he volunteered primarily in waste-stream diversion - sorting the trash from re-usables at his local dumpster. On a subsequent trip to Oceti, waste-stream diversion was one of the only jobs left to do. He’s immensely thankful that Clara and Andrew responded to his odd email from Standing Rock and set off a chain of events leading to this. He hopes to continue to bring friends and allies from Standing Rock out to New York and New England to speak and share knowledge.
205 Hudson Street
2nd floor - HAAG Room